day 5 mcleods corner michigan to ottawa
My last night camping for a couple of weeks. Good thing - I have'nt showered
in 5 days. My only decision this morning is what to do with Lake Huron.
Go above it thru Sault Ste. Marie
or dip down between the lakes thru central Michigan and cross at
Sarnia. The latter route is much longer. The only reason I'm tempted by it is
its all new and I'd get to visit and play music with Fern Deziel in
Uxbridge just north of Toronto.
Fern moved there from his water-access hideout up
Indian Arm on the BC coast. I miss his playing -
he has the best ear of any musician I know. I send him tapes and he learns
all the tunes on them in a few takes. He's supposed to make it to Ottawa
later for his moms birthday - his home town is St. Pierre de Wakefield on the
Quebec side. Solid French CDN, a great Cajun fiddler, a
bona fide character who rides Harleys so severely chopped they can't have any
I opt for the direct route to Ottawa - sort of. Its only
10 hours or so from The Soo, as its affectionately called - its
really a shithole - a roughneck pulp town known for its homicidal hockey team
- but I've got one last drive in Ontario I haven't done yet and always
wanted to - thru Haliburton and Bancroft in the hardscrabble bush country
of eastern Ontario.
Highway 69 from Sudbury to Parry Sound is a bad drive -
the worst on the trip. Toronto bound
holiday-weekenders take it as personal insult if you hang back more than a car
length from the vehicle in front.
It looks like their
heads are going to explode as they blow by to fill up the gap.
An hour later they're still only a few car lengths
ahead but happily zippered to the car in front.
If I lived in Toronto it would have to be downtown in a walking neighborhood.
Haliburton turns out to be a tourist town in full tilt as I pass thru.
I see my first chip wagon in Bancroft. You need to be from Ontario or Quebec
to appreciate chip wagons. My roots are in the Ottawa Valley - only an hour
or so away now. Five generations
- all living on the original homestead farms near
Kinburn. Once the Irish get some land they tend to stay put - although
a third of my parents generation left - and almost all of mine.
serve up huge portions of french fries in paper boxes with massive tin salt
My craving for chips goes back to the
Great Irish French Frie Famine of '33 when my great-great-grandfather
John L first
came to the Ottawa Valley. Brought a fearsome looking wife
and 12 kids on a wooden ship
- lost a child
and gained another on board.
I can feel the pull of the Valley on me as
I approach it near Renfrew. The land becomes fertile again.
A 5 hour flight from Vancouver to Ottawa is too long -
a 5 day road trip is just about right.
Its good to be home.